A CHILDREN’S adventure park was ordered to pay £3,000 after it breached health and safety laws.
The Crocky Trail in Guy Lane, Waverton, which is owned by the former Sheriff of Chester and ex-city councillor Ed Walley, was found guilty of failing to stop access to a 12ft drop slide and not taking effective steps to reduce the risk of injury.
The four-day city council prosecution, which cost Chester ratepayers more than £20,000, was attacked by judge Stephen Clarke.
He said: “It should never have seen the light of day in the court room. The trial has absorbed a huge amount of public money and I don’t think it has been worth a fraction of it. Both parties should have been able to sort themselves out without a court prosecution.
“All parties need to revisit the relationship which they have in order that future issues can be resolved with simple common sense and reason and not come before the court.”
The company was ordered to pay a £1,000 fine and costs of £2,000, despite the prosecution requesting a sum of £24,302.
Speaking after the trial, owner and director Mr Walley said: “I am innocent of three charges out of four. The fact that the prosecution was awarded only £2,000 costs out of more than £24,000 clearly shows how the court was sympathetic to The Crocky Trail.
“I agree with the judge, it should never have come to court and was a huge waste of ratepayers’ money. It could have been averted if the council health and safety inspectors spoke to me on the day they visited.”
The jury at Chester Crown Court decided that, despite removing the stairs up to the slide and putting up “do not climb” signs, the slide could still be used by members of the public.
Chester City Council spokeswoman Harriet Woodcock said: “The company did not take up any of our invitations to discuss things with us before action was taken and we had hoped to deal with the matter within the magistrates court but Mr Walley elected Crown Court.
“It is unfortunate that the council has had to intervene to take the action it has in this case but this reasserts the council’s commitment to take action where necessary to improve health and safety.
“We will continue to offer to work closely with this and other businesses across Chester to help them conduct their undertakings safely in future.”
Last week two further charges, breaching similar orders, failing to supervise the large and small spider traps and not having sufficient supervision, were dropped.
The jury also found Crocky Trail Ltd not guilty of breaching a supervision order on the drop slide when inspectors visited the attraction on July 1, 2007.
The Crocky Trail has more than 60 attractions and is used by thousands of adults and children every year.